The Shame Of Deadbeat Parents

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - September 13, 2006

Besides being last in votership, Hawaii has another dubious distinction: Nationally, we rank dead last in collecting child support payments from deadbeat parents. The federal government asserts that Hawaii’s Child Support Enforcement Agency missed collecting nearly $574 million. There are some, including state Attorney General Mark Bennett, who will dispute Hawaii’s cellar dweller status. But the state only disbursed about $83.6 million in child support, putting us at 41.4 percent collection on delinquent accounts. That tells me that 58.6 percent are deadbeats who are skating.

The reasons and explanations for this dismal standing are debatable. Lack of funding, personnel and, perhaps, enforcement issues may be at the root of the situation. The more important aspect of this story, however, is the deadbeats themselves.

I cannot fathom a man failing to care for his children. In those rare cases, I truly find it incomprehensible that a mother would turn her back on her kids. I am certain there are myriad explanations and excuses deadbeat parents can offer to explain their despicable behavior. The breakup of a marriage is an emotionally draining and financially challenging time. I have heard the severing of a marriage can invoke rage, revenge, hatred and disdain. Although understandable, the accommodation of these feelings stops when the children, already traumatized by the divorce, must suffer at the hands of their bickering parents.

I am not naïve. I acknowledge there are disputes that need consideration on an individual basis. If there is a crack-head mother who takes the support money and buys more drugs, then there is a problem. If the loser father pours support payments into the garters of strippers while his kids go hungry, then we really have a problem. But for the average divorcee who reneges on parental responsibility - shame on you!

Remember, both the bride and the groom professed love the day they were married. A sacred vow was shared and, the reality is, you broke your promise. This is something you need to reconcile within yourself.

Nevertheless, some of you brought children into this world. They did not ask to be born. You conceived these children, and the deal is you take care of them until they are legally adults. That’s the deal. You don’t want the responsibility? Then do not have kids.

If you do, and you and your spouse divorce, it is required of you to conduct yourselves in a civil manner. You may not like the conditions of your separation, but you have no choice but to work out your differences for the sake of your children. One of those conditions is financial responsibility.

Child support payments are essential. It can make a world of difference in the lives of your children. You know your ex-wife is going to have a tough time making ends meet as a single mom. Whether you initiated the divorce or she did, you must be a man and ensure your kids are taken care of.

Do you want your kids going to school in worn-out clothes, eating non-nutritious meals and missing even the most basic of activities? These are the childhood experiences that can never be duplicated. Never. You cannot be a willing accomplice in denying your own children. Do not abandon your children. Take the responsible road. Do not be a deadbeat parent.

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